Gran Turismo 5 on PlayStation 3 Hands-On Impressions.

Unbelievably so. Chances are, you already know. We're just here to remind you. When we saw the Toscana rally track in motion, we were stunned. Startled in fact. The game's silky smooth, running at an unwavering 60 frames per second. We watched on as day turned to night, and the blue sky was replaced by twinkling stars. It's still Gran Turismo; it's just prettier than ever before.

We didn't dare try the Toscana track ourselves. Watching able drivers slam into walls injected us with fear. We opted to switch back to the safety of Rome's road network, and hit the track in an Enzo Ferrari. We didn't move an inch from the starting line — Polyphony Digital really are that stubborn. They've kept the default accelerate and brake controls assigned to the X and Square buttons — meaning our tight grip on the R2 button left us standing at the starting line.

Whoops. The demo was locked to just two minutes, so we opted to take a casual drive through the scenic Italian capital. The route's been beautiful rendered, as has GT's sense of speed. We were surprised at how fast the scenery whizzed past us as we hit the straighter portions of the track. It seems like a strange thing to praise in a racing game full of fast cars, but it's bizarre how Polyphony's been unable to nail this in the past.

We tried to get closer to the AI in order to get an impression of any changes to their driving style, but a few sloppy corners left us at the back of the pack, and we were unable to close-in due to the time limit.

For our final attempt with the game, we jumped into the 3D mode. Having already seen Killzone 3 and MotorStorm: Apocalypse using the effect to great advantage, we were a little bit disappointed by GT's offering. The effect was very subtle — so much so we had to question whether it was working.

As it happens it was. There was some depth added to the picture, but not a lot. It gave the impression that the steering wheel was a sheet of paper sticking out of the screen and little more. The dashboard also looked suitably low-resolution in this setting.

We came away thoroughly disappointed by Gran Turismo's 3D mode. We expected the effect to give depth to the track in front of us, but it only managed to make the cockpit pop a little. Considering how good the game looks on a standard display, it's sad that the 3D hasn't been used to pronounce the scene more.

3D aside though, we came away from Gran Turismo 5 with a slender feeling of fulfillment. Gran Turismo is still good. The fifth iteration in the franchise is unlikely to be unfamiliar to anyone who has played a GT game before, it just looks better than ever. And when you have a mega franchise like GT, sometimes it's best to iterate rather than innovate. One thing's for certain — Gran Turismo 5's going to be the prettiest game that launches this fall.